splitting rhubarb

Hiya- my rhubarb is very big and I want to know when is the best time to split the crowns and replant?Any information would be gratefully accepted Many thanks



  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,472

    Any time it is dormant crackedpot, so now would be OK.  Normally the recommendation is to dig a whole crown up (often easier said than done!) and split it so that each piece has at least one bud before replanting in prepared soil.  Newly planted pieces are best left uncropped for a year to allow the roots to re-establish.  If you want to leave half of it in-place so that it can be cropped next year, you could dig a large hole at one side of the crown and then use a sharp spade to split it, levering the half you want to replant elsewhere into the hole ready for moving.  Mixing plenty of well rotted manure etc into the soil when you refill the hole would give the remaining plant some good ground to spread into.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • As Bob says it is agood time for this job right now.

    If you have a good number of crowns then maybe you should split and resow half and leave other half for next winter so you have a crop for 2014.I have two beds of rhubarb and will lift and split one this year and the other next. Can't be without the stuff you know.

    happy gardening

  • Hiya Bob the gardener and No expert- love the names- thankyou so much for the valuable information-the rhubarb has not been split for many years-scary doing the job when not sure- this will be my task for today- many thanks and kind regards to you both-

  • Only glad to be of any help.

    Happy Gardening crackedpot.

  • Further information .... if the clump is quite old and the crowns in the centre appear 'soft' then it's best to discard those and only use the healthier outer portions.

    Also don't pull the new plants the first year, however strong they appear!

  • cloud8cloud8 Posts: 101

    Hi, on the subject of division - I was given some rhubarb last year from my friend's allotment.  I didn't cut any of it except to remove a flower spike, and am wondering whether this year I should eat some or divide it.  All the books say you should have two plants so that each gets a rest but is my plant still too young to divide?  In which case should I not eat any this year to let it grow stronger so that I can divide it next year.  I hope this makes sense.  I can only see one bud so far anyway.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,594

    If it's a reasonable size this year I'd pull a few sticks when they're ready.  I love rhubarb but I only have one plant as I don't have room  for more.  

    I put a forcing pot (you can use an upturned bucket) over the clump in the winter (you can do it now) so that the stems are protected and grow a bit earlier and are a bit sweeter.

    This is not forcing in the traditional way, where you dig the roots up and expose them to frost then put them in a warm shed - if you do that then you do not crop them the following year, but just placing a pot over them does not stress the plant and I do it every year.

     I just don't harvest the rhubarb after early June, to give it a chance to build up the crown for the following year.  

    Give it plenty of organic compost of farm yard manure as a mulch and plenty of water in the summer if we get a dry spell and it'll be fine. 

    Your plant probably isn't ready to divide yet - if you want another plant I'd buy one, but as I say, I find one is enough for the two of us. 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • cloud8cloud8 Posts: 101

    Oh thank you Dovefromabove, I shall do just that.  Maybe one plant will be enough as you say.  I'm looking forward to some tasty crumble in the coming months.

  • TootlesTootles Posts: 1,470






     We've plonked a few crowns along the boundary of our lane as told it takes up so much room in the garden. I dug it over today and spotted little red nibs! Is this about right for rhubarb at this time of year?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,594

    That's about right Tootles image  Is this the first year of growing after planting? 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
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